Thirty years on and my memories of secondary school days are somewhat hazy (looking at that hairstyle, I would imagine this is a good thing!). There are of course certain elements that I will never forget: the painstaking walk home which was, in reality, only about 150 yards; the panic over losing my bus pass for the umpteenth time; and the burgers that smelt of B.O. but still remained the highlight of our week.
In addition to these fairly inconsequential matters, I recall constant reprimands for being "too chatty". When my mother kindly gifted me with all my old school reports just recently, this label was confirmed....
"I do wonder if the 'friendly chatting' which goes on, is not in fact preventing Suzanne from changing her Bs and B-s to As"
"I could wish for a little less chatter as although this does not distract from her own work, it could do from those around her."
"I've enjoyed listening to Suzanne arguing with her friends but she does need to try not to steam-roller!"
After getting over the initial hilarity (particularly from the last comment), it suddenly dawned on me that these reports could have been written about my youngest daughter. Most teachers and people who know The Tween, would describe her as chatty and excitable but that is something I have always loved about her. When and why did this attribute ever become a negative label?
Moving further on to my sixth form days, something changed....
"Suzanne is too quiet"
"She works quietly and well"
"Suzanne is a quiet student and needs to contribute more in class."
Of course it might have been a coincidence, or the effect of moving from the familiarity of secondary school, on to a large and impersonal sixth form college, but what happened to the "too chatty" me? Thankfully, current friends and family will testify that my ability to 'talk for England' didn't leave me altogether, but I do question why it was ever seen as anything but positive.
With school report season upon us, perhaps we should stop criticizing every seemingly negative aspect of our child's school report and consider the ways in which we can hone these skills or develop them into something positive for his/her future. Personally, I think I've done ok in life and I'm certain that my 'chatty' daughter will too.
Did you have a recurring theme in your school reports? Is this 'label' something you have struggled to shake off? Do you think that "chatty" should be deemed as negative?
This is my entry for The Gallery where the theme this week is 'A Younger Me'.